COVID-19 has presented many challenges for everyone in BC, students included. The world of education has been turned upside down, and kids have had to adapt. Most students have options, but special education students in BC are often overlooked.
With so many restrictions due to COVID-19, the transition to online learning is difficult for special education students in BC. It’s hard to find proper daytime care, especially when parents have to go to work. As a result, many special education students are left out of BC’s response to COVID-19.
Fortunately, there are resources available to accommodate special education students. This post will highlight how we can help make education accessible for everyone in BC.
Special Education Challenges
When COVID-19 forced BC schools to transition to remote learning, special education students were left behind. It was already difficult to find resources to assist with the needs of special education students, and COVID-19 completely eliminated those.
Problems with Inclusivity
In a letter sent to parents on June 26, the Board Chair and Superintendent of School District 68 (Nanaimo and Ladysmith) asked for feedback to help them plan for September’s return to school. They provided a link to ThoughtExchange, a platform allowing parents to voice their opinions.
It became apparent that special education students had been left out of the original plan. One parent called for inclusion, saying, “So many times during this pandemic it has been clear that special needs children and children with IEPs have been afterthoughts.”
Another brought attention to the need for support, saying, “My son has severe learning disabilities, and we found it challenging to give him the support he needed at home.” This reinforces the notion that schools need to do a better job of including special education students.
Lack of Community Resources
COVID-19 brought everything to a screeching halt, not just schools. The community resources for people living with disabilities were forced to close their doors as well. These resources are still largely unavailable today.
In-person services provided by disability assistance organizations are operating at a severely reduced capacity, if operating at all. As schools continue to neglect special education students, families are unable to find help in their communities.
Education Assistants and Daytime Care
When schools closed, students who relied on the help of education assistants (EAs) no longer had access. Despite this, they were still expected to participate in online learning. This was especially difficult for parents who worked during the day and couldn’t find the support their children needed. The worst part is, BC schools have yet to fully address this problem.
As part of the School District 68 ThoughtExchange, one parent noted the importance of education assistants. They said, “EAs are an integral part of our education system,” and, “Everyone agrees there are not enough EAs.”
Education assistants have had to work from home, only providing virtual check-ins with students. For students who struggle with online settings, this isn’t enough. In-person school is set to resume September 10, but, due to safety concerns, not everyone is comfortable going back. Students in BC need an alternative until COVID-19 is no longer an issue.
Alternative Learning for Special Education Students
Education should never be one-size-fits-all, and that’s true for special education too. Everyone has different needs to be met, and the education plan in BC doesn’t work for everyone.
Allow us to introduce alternative learning. With alternative learning, parents can work with teachers to come up with a program catered to their child’s needs. Students can learn at a pace that works for them, getting plenty of help along the way.
In BC, there are many alternative learning programs. Some of our favourites are North Island Distance Education School (NIDES) and Island ConnectEd (ICE). Both have been working with special education students for years. They have adapted to COVID-19 and continue to provide outstanding support.
There is also a school fully dedicated to special education students. Fawkes Academy is a not-for-profit school designed specifically for special education students. Their staff are certified teachers and behaviour analysts with years of experience. They operate with the philosophy ‘children need children’ and aim to provide an inclusive classroom atmosphere for their students. Fawkes Academy helps students participate in physical exercise, artistic projects, and other engaging activities. Check them out today!
At Tutoring…With a Twist*, our tutors have had great success working with special education students enrolled in alternative learning programs. Many services are operating remotely, but our tutors can work in person to give students the support they need. Our special education tutoring is a great way to help kids otherwise left behind by COVID-19.
With social distancing rules in place, it’s important to stay connected. Our certified tutors can keep kids connected and ease the stress of trying to find support in BC. Working one-on-one with a tutor can help students stay grounded and get the assistance they need. To find out more, we encourage you to learn all about the twist.
Special Education Students in BC Need Help During COVID-19
In a world where special education students are struggling, it’s important to help in any way we can. By drawing attention to these issues, we hope to see a shift toward inclusivity for special education students.
If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming school year, feel free to contact us. Don’t forget to make your voice heard on Facebook and other social media platforms as well. Let’s beat COVID-19 together!
*Services provided by With a Twist Education Ltd.